It’s almost time for training camps across the NBA to begin, but the Cleveland Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson, a restricted free agent, still don’t have anything signed, which means we’re moving away from a long term deal, and getting closer to qualifying offer territory.
The two sides are about $14 million overall apart. Thompson is looking for the max deal – $94 million over five seasons, probably with a player option exit somewhere. The Cavaliers aren’t going higher than $80 million over that timeframe, and there hasn’t seemed to be an inch of compromise from both sides over the last few months.
Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, who is also LeBron James’ agent, and is also James’ friend, is the one pulling the strings. LeBron James telling the Cavaliers to re-sign Thompson? That’s not just a teammate trying to get his friend to stay on the team. That’s business. And Paul is being aggressive, because his client list isn’t too long. Showing he’s going through fire for Thompson to get him that huge deal is a wink at other players.
Paul has said a number of times that Thompson won’t play for the Cavaliers if he takes the qualifying offer past what he has to. That means going away in 2016. But is there that much money waiting out there for him? A team willing to give him the new max? One that’s going to be off the charts once the salary cap gets its bump? It doesn’t seem likely because of what Thompson can and can’t do as a player, but we’ve seen some strange mega deals happen, so why not another one?
And staying on that train of thought of Thompson playing for his final season with the Cavaliers, is it such a big loss for them? Probably not. Thompson isn’t worth the money he’s asking for. Not when the number of minutes he can actually play is limited considering the other players at power forward and center the Cavs have. His agent wouldn’t be pushing for that max deal so badly if he thought Thompson can get a much better deal in one year.